In a stunning rebuke to peace and to ending the last conflict in the Western Hemisphere, Colombia's electorate - given the opportunity at referendum to endorse or to reject a peace agreement with rebels, voted the matter down yesterday.
Colombians rejected the peace agreement signed by President Juan Manuel Santos with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia(FARC). The FARC had led an armed rebellion in Colombia since 1964. However, over the last four years and with overwhelming sponsorship from Cuba and Norway, the Colombia government and the FARC reached and signed a peace agreement last week in a pompous celebration witnessed by many world leaders and dignitaries including United Nations(UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and United States(US) Secretary of State John Kerry.
To ratify the signed peace deal, the Colombia electorate had to support it at yesterday's referendum. President Santos did not have to offer the agreement to his people for approval, yet he did. Supporters were optimistic of victory. But Colombian dissent over what some people categorized as easy punishment to the FARC for 52 years of killings, kidnappings and narcotics peddling, led to the narrow defeat of the agreement by a vote of 50.2 percent to 49.8 percent from the low voter turn out of just 38 percent of Colombia's electorate.
President Santos and the FARC have pledged to continue to seek peace and meetings are already scheduled for later today to find a Plan B to peace after the referendum defeat. Could the close vote trigger a do-over?